Karen _______, age 13
July 29, 2012 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Illegible-filter: what's the name written on the back of this photograph? All I can make out is "Karen _______, age 13."
posted by hermitosis to Grab Bag (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think I see "at _____ hotel" in there.
posted by jon1270 at 2:40 PM on July 29, 2012

The photo is a school portrait. Having the photo in my hand is a bit of an advantage, it looks to me like the first letter might be a big capital "S."
posted by hermitosis at 2:41 PM on July 29, 2012

something "-sted"?
posted by BWA at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2012

I see "hotel" too, but I can't make out the bit on the left.
posted by fancyoats at 2:46 PM on July 29, 2012

posted by xingcat at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2012

I also see "hotel" but nothing else.
posted by bookwibble at 2:52 PM on July 29, 2012

I've tried adjusting the contrast and brightness, this was as clear as I could get it -- but I did scan the photo very large, so you can zoom pretty far in there if that helps.
posted by hermitosis at 2:53 PM on July 29, 2012

That middle line is definitely all one word, written in script. I can just about make out connections between every letter.
posted by hermitosis at 2:55 PM on July 29, 2012

Looks like "Graduated" to me (with the old-fashioned cursive G).
posted by zeptoweasel at 3:13 PM on July 29, 2012

Oh, I missed that you think it's a name. In that case I'm stumped.
posted by zeptoweasel at 3:19 PM on July 29, 2012

I see "tell" at the end. If the first letter is a letter D, maybe Donatelli?
posted by Sara C. at 3:21 PM on July 29, 2012

Or if it's got to be an S, maybe some Italian "S" last name ending in "telli"?
posted by Sara C. at 3:22 PM on July 29, 2012

I can see S_[d?]_ at the beginning, and then -netel or -metel at the end? That penultimate 'e' looks sort of written over though, which doesn't help.
posted by Catseye at 4:02 PM on July 29, 2012

posted by oceanjesse at 4:19 PM on July 29, 2012

This is wildly unanswerable without a better picture.
posted by cmoj at 5:41 PM on July 29, 2012

I see a clear "tel" at the end. The letter before the "t" doesn't look like the a or e in "Karen" or "age." Out of context, I would guess it's a "c." It's hard to see how it could be "c," though, because the letter before it appears to be "n" or maybe "m." "nct" and "mct" are both pretty odd letter combinations for a name.

At the beginning, I see "S" and then two short letters. Between that and the n/m, I don't see anything. I would guess it's two words, but the n/m aren't capitalized, so that suggests it's one word. The n/m could be a u, which would make it "S___uctel."
posted by scottreynen at 5:42 PM on July 29, 2012

A better/higher resolution image would help, definitely. The ending looks like it could possibly be nsted ???
posted by gudrun at 6:23 PM on July 29, 2012

The letters that look certain to me are c t e l .
posted by kellybird at 7:21 PM on July 29, 2012

I agree that it ends in "ctel". I think it's likely that the letter before the c is an i, and that you can see part but not all of the preceding letter. I also think there's an o near the beginning.
posted by Night_owl at 8:28 PM on July 29, 2012

posted by Night_owl at 8:31 PM on July 29, 2012

I see a J ... nctel
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:44 PM on July 29, 2012

With this kind of thing, negative image is your friend. I took the photo and flipped it negative, threw in an enhancement that lit up the writing even more. The only thing I didn't do and should have before uploading was throw the negative image to B&W as an alternative.

I posted the enhanced negative here:

Hope this helps!

posted by Gerard Sorme at 11:52 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it ends with "istell"

The rest is too borked to read. There are too many phantom loops and artifacts. JPEG is a bad format for this sort of thing.
posted by klanawa at 12:21 AM on July 30, 2012

Okay, did a little more work.

Here is a what we'll call (for our purposes here), a negative of a negative and washed: http://i.imgur.com/qJ4M0.jpg

Here is a converted grayscale with a soft shade wash: http://i.imgur.com/tPKIE.jpg

Here is a converted grayscale with a sharp clean wash: http://imgur.com/EeJla

Anything more than the above and you're talking about spending some fairly big bucks utilizing a higher grade forensics tool which would actually 'repaint' the photo. That would enable us to find out if there is any worn/rubbed ink that we can't see with the naked eye. At quick glance, I would say that looks to be the case here. Of course, the compressed format and the low resolution leaves many questions with what you provided.

Your having the original is a huge advantage. There are some things I wish I knew:
- You called it a 'portrait' - what kind of paper is this? Approximate age?
- Does the ink appear to have a color other than black?
- Is this possibly graphite pencil?

I think I know the answers to the above, but I obviously don't have the original document and you scanned the document in color. When working with digital copies from an original source, many times it is far better, forensically, to work with an original grayscale scan and an original not scanned to a compressed format such as jpg/jpeg, etc.

There's other ways to go at this as well, methods used before the digital era, etc.

I have no idea how important this is to you, but I wish you the best of luck.

posted by Gerard Sorme at 12:35 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm reading this as

"Gallen" [St Gallen?]
_____ "Hotel"
"Cafe 113"
posted by MuffinMan at 3:41 AM on July 30, 2012

Are you sure it's 'Karen'?
If so, my guess is "Karen at SW hotel, age 13."
posted by ghost dance beat at 6:11 AM on July 30, 2012

Here's an even larger one.
posted by hermitosis at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2012

It's a school picture, the kind that kids have taken every year. I believe it's from the late '70s. It's in color, the corners are cut rounded.

The inscription is written in what I think is pencil. In ink, higher up (in different handwriting) it says "1 - wallets" so I think this is a proof used to order prints from the school photographer or whatnot.

Yes, I'm almost positive the first name is Karen. I'm still fairly positive the last name begins with S. The "age 13" isn't really something I'm questioning either. The photo was definitely not taken at a hotel or cafe.
posted by hermitosis at 6:27 AM on July 30, 2012

OK. My guess - and it doesn't look quite right, but hey - is "Schnabel"
posted by MuffinMan at 6:42 AM on July 30, 2012

I don't know the best way to share a file here that's not a jpeg, but if anyone wants a PNG or a TIFF to look at, you can email me via the address in my profile.
posted by hermitosis at 6:43 AM on July 30, 2012

Is Karen of any obvious ethnicity that could indicate what kind of name she'd be likely have?
posted by cmoj at 9:55 AM on July 30, 2012

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